This All American review contains spoilers.
All American Season 2, Episode 5
You know what? I think All American Season 2 Episode 5: “Bring the Pain,” might be my favorite episode of this season so far. Don’t sleep on this show because it’s more than just your average high school drama and some football.
So much goes on in this episode and everyone is feeling the pain. The James family is reeling from the aftermath of Corey’s (Chad L. Coleman) sudden departure at the end of Episode 4. He leaves without a solid explanation, and it’s angering because of course this is going to affect the family even more now—especially Spencer.
Let’s talk about Spencer (Daniel Ezra). Man, once again, Daniel Ezra gives a top-notch performance. Give him all the awards, please. He crushes your soul with all the rawness and realness Spencer exhibits. I knew they would have him spiralling again because, as you may have noticed, he has a strong personality. When things hit him hard, he doesn’t always work through it in the best possible way. He resorts to anger and confusion and, sometimes, like during that awkward dinner with that booster, a bad mouth. He’s hurting and and struggles to find a common ground to keep himself afloat.
I don’t blame him. I can only imagine how mentally draining it must be to wonder why your own father chose to run away and not own up to his actions, or why he had to go in the first place. Spencer is a teenager and it isn’t fair that he has to hold such a heavy burden. Can’t he just be happy already? When Spencer weeps in his mother’s embrace, wondering if it was his fault that Corey left, I nearly lost it. He doesn’t deserve all this pain and, sadly, this kind of pain happens to a lot of families in real life. All American depicts these heavy storylines so well.
While Spencer is going through his family stuff, we don’t see him share more screen time with Laila (Greta Onieogou), other than at the beginning of the episode when he and Olivia (Samantha Logan) decide to hold an intervention for her at the Bakers.
Oh Laila. Her story is so important and this journey of hers is as real as it gets. It’s heartbreaking to see her in denial and icing everyone out, especially Olivia who is only trying to help her best friend. Some may find her unbearable and annoying, but when you actually think about it, that’s life for so many people suffering with depression. There is a lot of healing that must be done for, and the writers are truly handling her storyline with care.
Laila’s father telling Laila that her mother also struggled with depression is heartbreaking, but I also believe it was an eye opener for Laila. It enables her to finally seek and try treatment. Laila’s pain will only grow if she doesn’t find a way to work through it. Also, it sucks that her father took this long to step up and help his daughter, and only did it after she told him she was broken because of him.
But wait! You thought we’d only see the rough moments of Spencer and Laila? Nope. Just when I thought I could only handle one or two heartbreaking storylines, this episode throws another one at me…
Remember when I said Jordan (Michael Evans Behling) was only making matters worse for himself in my last review? I just knew he would do something reckless like this. He gets a girl pregnant. *Side-eyes him*. Really, Jordan? Now what are you going to do? (Though a part of me thinks she might not actually be pregnant because we didn’t see her say it on-screen.) Regardless, Jordan is in a rut now. However, what wasn’t cool was Billy (Taye Diggs) making it seem like it was Laura’s (Monet Mazur) parenting that allowed him to act like this. She’s been doing this alone and she wouldn’t be a single parent if it wasn’t for that big lie he dropped on her.
My favorite *happy* moments of this episode are the scenes between Olivia and Asher (Cody Christian). That surprise birthday party Laila planned wasn’t all for nothing. Asher’s growth is not only great, but an excellent depiction of what it’s like to change your life to become a better person. It’s hard work and we don’t know how he’ll react to his parents’ secret, but, for now, I just want to see Asher like this: joyful.
He has deep feelings for Olivia and, while it might have looked like Olivia didn’t feel the same way before, it looks like she does now. Asher gives her a gift—the only gift she’s gotten actually—and it’s such a thoughtful one. They have a connection and it’s special, though part of me still feels like Olivia might still have hidden feelings for Spencer because it was very evident in Season 1.
For now, I like what I’m seeing between these two. Asher makes her feel seen and he values her so much. The aspect of their moment together that really stood out was when he asked for consent to kiss her. We stan. That’s how it’s done, how it should be done when you’re unsure if someone reciprocates your feelings.
I’m not feeling this Rochelle (Kayla Smith) chick. She admits to Spencer that she lied about someone tipping Spencer off all to impress her dad and Spencer doesn’t even get mad about it. Umm, this almost ruined his career. Please don’t make these two have some sort of a connection.
Asher giving Olivia that burner phone and putting in her sponsor’s number along with his number if she ever needed anyone to talk to was genuinely the cutest thing ever.
I was so worried Spencer was going to lash out on Grace (Karimah Westbrook) about the DNA test when she told him she wasn’t sure if Dillon (Jayln Hill) was Corey or Billy’s. Phew.
Shadia Omer is an entertainment writer, pop culture enthusiast, and an aspiring TV writer. She’s based in San Diego, CA but will always rep being from Houston, TX instead. You can find her on Twitter tweeting about her favorite shows one tweet at a time at @shadiawrites.